The one positive of that night is that I’ve restarted my relationship with Khione. It feels good to have made up with her, to have her help. We parted on good terms, knowing we could always turn to the other if we needed them. And when it comes to the possibility of Seth rearing his ugly head again, that could be a very big advantage for me.
I don’t like the idea of that. I was meant to be cleaning up this city, making it safer. Huge, unexplained explosions are not going to win me any friends. And tonight was meant to be my night. My chance to be on the front foot. Somehow I’m now behind, and there’s still the impact of the snowstorm I got the Goddess of Winter to bring down to deal with. Right now, though, I have to focus.
Sure, I’m going to have a hell of a lot of explaining to do, but this is where I want to be. Not only has Springfield restarted my abilities, but it’s shown I’m just as good as I ever was, maybe better. I always knew there was a risk with Kinnesberg, and I had kept an eye on her. It was hard, especially when we spent so much time in bed together. I’d hoped I might be wrong, that things wouldn’t work out as I predicted. It just goes to show that I’m the great trickster, and there’s no one better.
She really is wonderful, and things have never been so good between us. It’s almost like the unpleasantness of being accused of killing someone dealt with that awkward moment between Kinnesberg and me a few weeks ago. We’re closer than I ever expected, and it feels good. Right. Like we were always destined to be like this.
“I cannot imagine your pain.” I can. He’s mourning for someone very special, and, in my own way, so have I been. “But what I can tell you is that I am not the person that caused that. I do not know who took your daughter away from you, but will you allow me to help you on that quest?” He says nothing.
“No.” It’s the hardest lie I’ve ever uttered. I loved her, and yet I took her life. I was trying to change for the better, for her. Instead, I did the worst thing imaginable, and I still don’t know how I did it. Clearly, these thoughts, or some version of them, cross my face because Kinnesberg stands and pads across the carpet. She gets so close I can feel her breath on my face. It’s hot, heavy.
I feel tiredness sweep over me. I was hoping for a peaceful night, a chance to listen to my records, enjoy a drink, and sleep. That’s all gone, replaced by uncertainty. I have so much more to think about now, but I can’t help but yawn.
In some cases, the ease with which I give a dishonest answer is always going to serve me well in this race. But, of course, there is some level of accountability. If I tell lies all the way to city hall, then when I try to do anything I want to, people are going to notice. I am trying to do something good here, and I would like to get elected on the back of that if I can.
With everyone still in the game, the process of discarding cards commences, and I set my expression accordingly. Grim determination that my luck is going to change at some point tonight. It’s fooling some. Others aren’t so convinced, but I need that too. If my gambit is to work, I need a healthy mix of scepticism at this stage of the game.
She hadn’t thought of it that way. I represent redemption. If she could take an independent from unknown to a winner in less than four months, imagine what she might do with another crack at her own career.
I’m here because of the redhead I saw neatly arranging the display in the window. For an instant, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the flick of her copper hair. It glinted brightly as it caught in the shop lights, a glimpse of brilliance against the evening darkness. The movement was so familiar, soft, gentle, and radiant. It reminded me so much of my Lily.
As I do, my hand brushes against something. It tickles my skin and stops me in my tracks. I stare down, taking in the sight of a single, out-of-place weed. It is a hideous, useless wildflower, and it reminds me so much of myself.
I wanted my proximity to communicate how sorry I was. Yes, I’d had the unspoken conversation with her over and over again in my head, but I felt like I actually needed to be in the same room as her once again. It oddly made me feel like she might hear me, forgive me. Yet, I didn’t know if it was okay. Should a killer attend the funeral of the person they murdered? Was it really the done thing?
I want to cry and can feel the pinpricks of tears behind my eyes, but I won’t give them the satisfaction. Whoever those bastards are, they won’t win. They will pay, though. I mean it. Revenge will be mine. As I sit up, my shoulders slump, failure a bitter taste in my mouth.
I seethe at my reflection, my chest rising and falling in sharp, ragged movements. I grind my teeth together, knowing full well the voices are getting to me, and I’m only making it worse. I am in control. I am in control. I utter my supposedly soothing chant, trying to ignore the cackling it invokes from my unseen tormentors.